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HP Mini 311

>> Saturday, October 24, 2009

HP Mini 311 is what you would call an oversized netbook. It's about the same size as the ASUS EeePC 1101HA, Acer Aspire One (A0751h), and Gateway LT3103u in that they all have 11.6 inch widescreens. At 3.3 pounds, it's the heaviest among its peers, although the differences are small. HP Mini 311 is the prettiest though, as HP's signature imprints against a white background is delightful to look at. A black version is also available, though darker colors are usually a magnet for fingerprints and smudges.

Alternatively, the Toshiba NB205 and HP Mini 5101 use textures and metals, respectively, to enhance their looks, as well as repel unsightly smudges. HP Mini 311 is a bigger netbook than the Toshiba NB205 because it houses a bigger screen. Although 11.6 inch widescreens are building momentum in the netbook space, they, along with a 1.366 by 768 resolution, are still tough finds. Most 10 inch netbooks default to a lower, 1.024 by 768 resolution. Likewise, the Asus 1101HA, Gateway LT3103u, and Acer A0751h have matching screen sizes and resolutions.

They're not even the biggest netbooks screens. Both the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 and Samsung NC20 (21GBK) use 12 inch widescreens and 1.280 by 800 resolutions. What makes HP Mini 311 special is that it runs an Nvidia chipset instead of the Intel chipset found on every other netbook on the market. It still needs a CPU, though. The 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 is a commonly used netbook processor, which means in terms of raw horsepower, the Mini 311 isn't that far ahead of other netbooks. Video encoding tests finished in 4 minutes 54 seconds, which is about as fast the Toshiba NB205 (4:45) and Lenovo S12 (4:40).

It's the fastest among its 11 inch peers, since the Asus 1101HA and Acer A0751h run on a more inferior Atom Z520 processor and the the Gateway LT3103u opts for an AMD low voltage CPU. HP Mini 311 has more oomph when it comes to graphics performance. The ION LE is basically a stripped down version of the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics chipset the same chipset found in the Apple MacBook Air (Nvidia 9400GM). The "LE" portion means that support for Direct X is downgraded from 10 to 9.

Its scores on 3DMark06, which I ran just to see what the performance would be, were in the same ball park as the MacBook Air and annihilated those of its netbook counterparts. Despite these 3D benchmark scores, the combination of the Atom processor and lack of a Direct X 10 capable graphics chipset crippled games like World in Conflict and Crysis both of these games lagged to the point where they were unplayable. Games like World of Warcraft and Mini Ninjas, which have lower graphics requirements, were lag free and absolutely playable.

The gravy was supposed to be in high definition playback. I tested several HD movie clips on HP Mini 311, as well as playing them to the Samsung LN55A950 HDTV. It handled all of my 720p and 1080i (24 fps) clips with great color accuracy, good picture detail, and they didn't suffer from any lag. When playing 1080p (24fps) movie clips in H264 and WMV formats, however, there was noticeable lag. Let's just say it wasn't a smooth experience. And even though its 6 cell, 53Wh battery is roughly the same capacity as the one found in the Toshiba NB205 and HP 5101, its score of 5 hours 29 minutes on MobileMark 2007 is about 2 to 3 hours less than that of the competition.

Still, more than 5 hours of battery life is very respectable. By netbook standards, HP Mini 311 is reasonably priced and offers features most netbooks lack. You're paying a small premium for a netbook that has an HDMI port and can drive 1080p resolutions to a bigger display. Though it didn't deliver on 1080p playback, it handled 720p and 1080i videos better than netbooks with Intel based graphics. For those who were hoping to make a gaming netbook out of this, think again. High end 3D games are still best played on full fledged laptops.


Shimumsy October 25, 2009 at 3:47 AM  

i have a hp laptop but i'm looking for a netbook that i could carry inside my purse. thanks for the info.

Nerisa Eric November 5, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

HP Mini 311 seems to very attractive laptop with best features and benefits

Nerisa Eric November 5, 2009 at 1:27 PM  

HP Mini 311 seems to very attractive laptop with best features and benefits

Nerisa Eric November 5, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

HP Mini 311 seems to very attractive laptop with best features and benefits

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